Like many Eastside residents, I regularly see e-mail notices of meetings dealing with future light rail systems in our area. The Sound Transit representatives describe some of the planning they’re doing such as selecting sites for stations and proceeding with initial designs.
I believe this entire effort is at best very pre-mature, and at worst a total waste of time and money. The fundamental problem with the current Sound Transit East Link proposal is the serious doubt about the capability of the I-90 bridge to structurally support an effective light rail system.
Prior to the vote last fall, Sound Transit was touting the fact that Prop 1 light rail, when completed in 2021, would provide one train crossing Lake Washington with up to 600 riders every nine minutes. They neglected to mention that 378 of the riders would be standing since each of the 3 cars only has 74 seats.
In order to have any favorable impact on congestion, the trains should have at least four cars and run at a minimum every 4-5 minutes. The system also should include a rail link to the Eastgate Park & Ride to allow access for residents living east of 405 along the I-90 and south 405 corridors.
The Eastgate station also would provide bus riders with train access and eliminate the need for buses to cross into Seattle. The second feeder line from Eastgate would facilitate the more frequent service required to provide an effective transit system.
Unless the structural issues can be resolved, Sound Transit needs to redirect their efforts to assuring the future 520 bridge is light-rail compatible.
Sound Transit is required to use tax funds generated on the Eastside on transportation projects here. Sound Transit should spend a major portion of these funds on constructing a structurally capable 520 bridge.